It's a tendency that's come to stay. No sooner an event ends, does Gaganjeet Bhullar withdraw to the privacy of his room to ruminate. Slouched over the desk, paper and pen in hand, he spends hours jotting down the don'ts.
The practice started since last year's Czech Open and Austrian Golf Open on the European Tour, when he slipped into the shadows from a position of strength. With time the notes have grown in volume. Seemingly more aware, Bhullar ushered in the year in the hope that his lacklustre form would not spill over. But that was not to be. The T6 at the SAIL-SBI Open was the lone bright spot as he traversed through missed cuts at the start of the season. The feverish scribbling did not stop. Confident the routine would pay off, he teed off at the Panasonic Open. But he kept repeating the mistakes and denied himself the Panasonic Open title in April.
The demons lay not in the mind but in the technique. The anxiety to follow the ball's trajectory and issues with his "takeaway" were hurting him, but Bhullar terms the T2 finish, which almost coincided with his turning 24, as a turning point. The late charge at the Delhi Golf Club was creditable but the plethora of errors had Bhullar making himself a promise.
"I swore to stay clear of the mistakes, and that's what happened this week," he told HT from Taipei after winning the weather-hit Yeangder Tournament Players Championship on Monday. Top scores
It wasn't as if realisation dawned suddenly during the $500,000 Asian Tour event. Even in the lead-up to the campaign at the Linkou International Golf and Country Club, the endeavour was to stick to the lessons imbibed by flipping through his notebooks. Proof lay in the T6 at the ISPS Handa Singapore Classic, just after the Panasonic Open, and the second spot at last week's Worldwide Holdings Selangor Masters.
If Bhullar dedicated his victory to this rather new routine, he was also thankful to Thongchai Jaidee for introducing him to Peter Wolfstter. The German has been instrumental in setting the "takeaway" right. "Earlier, I was leaving the club-head slightly open, it is squarer now," said Bhullar.
The 10-day stint in Munich with Wolfstter and sound ball-striking are among the gains Bhullar lists from the off-season. Things did get tight towards the end on Monday, but the four-shot victory showed that his frenetic approach to the latter had not been in vain. "I've been hitting a lot of greens in regulation and finding the fairways regularly (he leads the fairway hit list with an accuracy of 84 per cent). When that happens, errors come down."